May 31, 2011

Memories Day

On Saturday we headed south to visit with my MIL and my grandma. My sweetie dropped off me, Crafty, Scout, Curly and Baby Doll at Grandma’s house just in time for us to walk uptown to see the big parade. (If you read yesterday's post, you know where the older kids went with my sweetie. Sport stayed in the valley with Bossy’s family so he could attend Bean-Dip’s birthday party.)

My home town's one and only stoplight. It was put in about 20 years after I left.
I kept thinking I might spot somebody I know in my hometown, but other than Grandma and my sister-in-law and her kids, I didn’t know a single person. I guess I have been married and gone for 27 years. I found myself searching the faces of the old people rather than the young ones. What does that say about me?

Anyway, after the parade, we walked back to Grandma’s (I forgot the stroller, so I was lugging Baby Doll the whole way). There was a festival going on, so tons of people were on Main Street, but I wasn’t nervous about my kids, for some crazy reason, my home town is still not a scary place. When we got back to Grandma’s, she asked me to help her color her hair. Some silly people in her life told her that she is 93 and she should just let it go gray. But why? It’s a five-dollar box of hair dye and half an hour’s worth of time to make her happy.

We got the color on and my sweetie showed up with the rest of the kids. They were itching to check out the festival, so I sent them all out the door so I could help Grandma take a shower and rinse out her hair. I wasn’t prepared for the wave of emotion that swept through me upon seeing her tiny frail body. She’d had a recent surgery on her leg and the area was about three inches wide and five inches long where the skin had been removed. As I gently washed her back and rinsed the dye from her hair, the tears flowed down my cheeks as I realized we’d come full circle. This was the bathroom where I sat as a child while Grandma washed my hair (I didn’t like it much then). This is where Mom and Grandma gave me a perm and rolled the rollers so tight it stretched the skin in my cheeks! It’s amazing I came out of that one with any hair left.

I wrapped the warm towel around her narrow shoulders and steadied her as she stepped over the edge of the tub. Slowly and carefully I helped her dress. Just this much excitement had made her tired. She was not like the Grandma I remember, yet she was still herself in so many ways. They say Memorial Day is about remembering and I spent the day doing just that. After the kids came back we piled in the van and headed to the cemetery to leave some flowers on Mom and my Grandpa’s graves. Dad was in his truck ahead of us and as we pulled in about 10 yards behind him I saw that he was talking to someone.

Remember my story about the irrigation ditch that nearly did me in as a child? Dad was talking to Mike, the guy who pulled me out. I climbed out of the van and walked in his direction. I hadn’t seen him in at least 15 years. He pulled me into a big hug and I said, "I’ve been thinking about you all week! Remember when you pulled me out of the irrigation ditch? I was just telling my kids that story…" (and all my blogging friends). He started laughing, "That was a long time ago!" We visited a little longer and he turned to leave. "Thanks, Mike," I said. I don’t think I said it as a child, but it seemed appropriate now. He smiled and waved. Yeah, it’s all about the memories…and family…and service (even from a 12-year-old boy)…and love. I hope you had all of those on your own Memorial Day weekend.

Baby Doll got her viking on.

May 30, 2011

Guest Blog: Spiritual Insight by Princess

Today I got to do some something fun. I went to the Manti Temple with Dad, Dog Walker, Prima Donna, and Grandpa. Grandma C had some family names that needed to be done. The Manti Temple’s Baptistry is much different from the one my sister and I are used to going to. It is a lot smaller, less busy, and it wasn’t as calm or peaceful. I didn’t feel the same as I did in my temple and it worried me. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a tiny room and my grandpa was saying a prayer with his hands on my head that I felt something.

It wasn’t a feeling of peace; it was a kick from my sister sitting on the chair across from me. I opened my eyes and hers were closed, trying to look innocent even as a huge grin spread across her face. Right then I realized that if it weren’t for the power of the priesthood, I’d be dead, and my little sister, who was sitting across from me, would be doing my names. She would have been in the dressing room alone, she would have my room, my clothes, my toys… My treasured items wouldn’t be there, they would be in stores or trees, waiting to be turned into paper, and then masterpieces… by someone else. If I weren’t here, you wouldn’t be reading this.

How would the people around me have been affected if I had died that day? My friends, my family, my future husband…how would their lives be different? Would my best friend be happy? Would my husband marry someone else?

Bossy thinks she is funny.
Now I just want to point out that I DID die (something I am very proud of and am seriously considering putting on my resume!). I wonder what happened when I did. I want to hope I found my great-grandparents, who were already dead, and asked them what to do. I want to think that my great-grandpa, who drowned, told me his story and helped me decide to return to my family. I want to think my children were there, and explained to me that I needed to go back home so they could join me some day. I hope my siblings that weren’t born told me about all the fun we would have together, and the special moments we would share.
My awesome dance friends at C & C

I came back for a couple of reasons. I needed to live out my life. I needed to have trials and fun times, and learn to dance. I needed to get married and raise my family. But one of the most important reasons is because I needed to come back so my autistic brother wouldn’t blame himself for killing me. I love my brother. Nate, I’m so glad you put me in that bathtub. I’m glad you gave me that experience and made me the person I am today. I love you.

~ Princess

Noticed the church pew and did a double take? Go read this story.

May 29, 2011

Princess's Miracle

I squinted at the gray screen, trying to make out the tiny arms and legs as the doctor expertly pointed to each appendage. The year was 1997 and I was only 8 weeks pregnant, so determining the sex was out of the question, but I was thrilled to see the tiny heart pounding out a snappy rendition of Jingle Bells. ‘How appropriate,’ I thought. It was Christmas Eve, and I could think of no better gift than seeing the gift of life on my doctor’s computer screen. As my sweetie and I hurried from the doctor’s office, the cold clear air sent us quickly to the car. We had a little last minute shopping to do, so we headed into the heavy traffic of downtown Salt Lake City.

Not any of my babies.

We drove several blocks to the nearest strip mall. We wanted to get home to the kids so that we could spend the afternoon together. Bossy was 13 and certainly capable of babysitting her five siblings, but still, we didn’t like to be away too long, especially on Christmas Eve. We made our way through the store, looking for something to fill the blanks on our shopping list. Before we had time to find anything suitable, my cell phone rang. I pulled it from my pocket and punched the button. "Hi," I began. I knew it was the kids, because no one else had that number.

My eleven-year-old Gym Rat was hysterical. "Calm down," I nearly shouted. "What’s wrong?" I heard Bossy grab the phone. She was sobbing, "I’m so sorry, Mom…Princess was in the tub…she turned blue…she wasn’t breathing…." What was she telling me? My sweet, blond 15-month-old girl was where? My hands were shaking so badly I nearly dropped the phone.

Suddenly, a soothing voice of one of South Jordan’s finest came on the phone. "Ma’am? Listen to me." I tried to calm down. How could I be calm when they were telling me I’d just lost my baby? "Are you alone?" "No," I managed to choke out. "My husband is with me." "We want the two of you to drive carefully to Primary Children’s Hospital. Where are you?" he questioned. "We’re downtown," I managed. "We could be there in just a few minutes." "Settle down and drive slowly. We’re bringing your baby in on Life Flight. You’ll get there before we will."

That trip to the hospital was the longest one I have ever taken. I screamed, I cried, I tore my hair. Why did we leave her home? When we finally arrived, I was in total meltdown. Princess was not at the hospital yet, and no one knew anything of her condition. We waited for about 30 minutes before we heard the helicopter.

Moments later, we were allowed in the emergency room. Our little Princess was bloated and covered with wires and tubes. She was ice-cold, but she was breathing. Yes, she was still breathing. Our next-door neighbor showed up about the same time we did and he gave her the most beautiful priesthood blessing. Like her ancestor I told you about yesterday, that blessing appeared to make all the difference. She was transferred quickly to the pediatric ICU and hooked to all kinds of monitors. The doctors sat down with us and told us to be realistic. They didn’t think she would die at this point as long as they could warm her up carefully. The first 24 hours were critical, but if she made it through, we still had the possibility of brain damage or even physical damage. I didn’t care, I hugged her as carefully as I could, kissed her, and sobbed her name. She was still alive, and I could think of no better gift than to see the gift of life on the PICU’s monitors.

We sat with her most of the night. We couldn’t touch her because it modified her temperature. I’d never felt so helpless in my life. My grandmother came to stay with our other children. They all agreed that Christmas would wait until our little Princess could come home and share it with us. The morning’s trip to the doctor and our wonderful news of the successful ultrasound for our seventh child seemed a lifetime away.

Christmas morning dawned beautifully, even for us in the PICU. Other parents were there, sharing Christmas morning with their sick and dying little ones. Santa Claus came and brought some gifts and candy, and I couldn’t help wondering if our Princess would ever be able to play with the little stuffed animals or eat the gingerbread. Toward noon, our doctor came in to check on her. We were all exhausted and hoping for good news.

She was still under anesthesia and full of tubes and wires. Her tiny face was swollen from the IV, a respirator covered her mouth and nose, and the heart monitors dotted her little chest. The doctor picked her up and stood her right up on her feet. She moaned and opened her eyes. The doctor paused for only a moment, then he said with conviction, "She’s going to be fine, but plan on her being here at least a week." We were thrilled. No one knew how long she was under water, and with the risk of infection, she could have stayed at the hospital for weeks with respiratory problems or pneumonia.

We are all glad she is around.
Forty-eight hours later, Princess was ready to go home. It was nothing short of a miracle. Christmas morning dawned bright and early for us on December 27, 1997. The sounds of paper tearing and happy voices were never more appreciated. Princess sat weakly on my lap and carefully opened her packages. I gave her a little squeeze and blinked back the tears. I could think of no better gift than to see the gift of life…our little Princess, wrapped in her warm quilt from the hospital, snuggled in my lap on Christmas Day.

**Editor's Note: I'd just like to add that it is because my mother believes in scouting that Princess is here today. If I had not been through the CPR/first aid certification I wouldn't have known what to do when the Gym Rat pulled Princess from the tub. I had him call 911 while I started CPR. It wasn't until the paramedics were sending us to the neighbors house and I knew I had to call Mom that I became hysterical. Scouting is an excellent program and I strongly encourage anyone who babysits to become CPR certified.** 

May 28, 2011

More Ditches

My sweetie thinks it’s creepy that I have so many stories about drownings and near drownings. I think I got on this subject after I wrote the story on Grandma for Mothers’ Day. I told you that her first husband had a stroke while he was swimming. She sent me a beautiful hand-written letter a few days later. She said that several years ago her brother came by for a visit and told her what actually happened that day (isn’t that weird, when they were in their 80s he finally decided to tell her the whole story?). Apparently they were fishing and my grandfather hooked a big one…too big to bring in on the line. So he decided to go after it. My great-uncle said Grandfather went down once, resurfaced and hollered for help. Then he went back down and never came back up. So he really just drowned.

As I told you Thursday, the main canal was about ½ a block from my grandparents’ house. When I was a child, the irrigation ditches didn’t frighten me unless the water was running high. That was generally in the early spring when the run-off was at its peak. During those times we were strictly forbidden to even walk near the canal. When the water was low, my brothers and I would walk into the mouth of the culvert that ran beneath the road. It was easily 6 feet high, but more likely 8 (as a small child, everything seems big…)

I know we didn’t have any trouble walking together into the opening. But it was dark and scary and even during the driest of seasons there was a trickle of muddy water that ran over our bare feet and curled around our ankles. I was not fond of the spiders and snakes (although I never saw a snake, my brothers insisted they were in there!) nor the dark. Perhaps my brothers can verify that they really walked through the underground culverts all the way to the center of town. I heard that they did, but I was too afraid to accompany them on that dangerous and terrifying journey.
Anyway, this canal was much bigger than the one I fell into. It was the collector and it ran several blocks before it was diverted into about three different smaller ditches like the one by our house. None of these ditches were fenced nor covered except for a narrow culvert so that the family living in the house could cross by foot or by car to get to the road.

One spring morning, someone from the neighborhood pounded on our door. It seems that the little girl just down the street from Grandma and Grandpa’s house was missing. She was about two and the cutest little thing with dark eyes and dark hair. Her parents were American Indians and they had a big family like us. They had a boy the same age as me and other kids that matched up with the ages of my siblings. We knew each other well and played together often. Natasha’s mother was frantic with worry. The canal was running high. Dad and Grandpa both joined the group of searchers. None of us were allowed to help because of the dangerous waters, so we stayed home and worried. I remember at one point we all gathered together and said a prayer for her and for their family.

Later that afternoon Grandpa was in the group that found her little body. She had fallen in the canal and the water had carried her to the dam in one of the diversion ditches. As a community, we were devastated. It was the first death of a child that I remember and it could have been any one of us. We stayed far away from the canal for the rest of the run-off season. My mom, who was a non-swimmer and deathly afraid of the water, insisted that we all take swimming lessons. Not that swimming lessons could have saved little Natasha…

My sweetie has a way cool story in his family. One of his ancestors that helped settle his hometown had a daughter that drowned in one of these irrigation ditches just like the one where I nearly met my demise. She was not breathing and had no pulse for quite some time. Her parents asked Elder Orson Hyde to give her a blessing. When he told them that she was gone and it wasn’t appropriate for him to recall her to life, they told him that her blessing as a babe had promised her that she would live to adulthood and bear many children.

Elder Hyde immediately gave her a blessing and within seconds she was breathing again. She did live to be a mother with quite a few children. When I read that story for the first time, I understood that devastating feeling her mother must have felt knowing that only Heavenly Father could make a difference for her. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you my one last drowning story, then I promise we’ll move on to happier things.

May 27, 2011

Food for Thought: Five-Cup Salad

I told you last week about our neighborhood cookbook and some of the gems I have found there. Another one of my favorite new salad recipes is called Five-Cup Salad (except at my house it’s Ten-Cup Salad!). The best thing about it is that I almost always have the ingredients on hand, so when I have a bunch of extra people for dinner or if Bossy’s family shows up unexpectedly, I can throw this one together fast and stretch the entrĂ©e just a little further.

This salad always turns out the best when Princess makes it because she actually measures when she cooks. Since the base is sour cream and it counts on enough marshmallows and coconut to sweeten it, make sure you have at least a cup of each. When we make it, I use a 15-oz can of pineapple and 2 cans of mandarin oranges. Then just double everything else. I have also used the fun colored marshmallows, but the kids prefer it with just the plain white ones. It is better if it gets to sit in the fridge for an hour, but that rarely happens at my house. In fact, it is gobbled up so quickly, it hardly ever hits the fridge at all! I hope you like it. Leave me a comment and let me know.

Five-Cup Salad

1 cup pineapple chunks or tidbits, well drained
1 cup mandarin oranges, well drained
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup sour cream

Combine all ingredients. Mix well (this step is really important because if you leave any sour cream hanging around the top of the bowl, it still tastes sour!). Chill several hours or overnight (if possible, if not, just put it on the table and watch it disappear!).

May 26, 2011

Water Turn for Worse

I’m doing a little rearranging on my blog, so if you are looking for the Food for Thought feature, come back tomorrow. I’ve decided that "F"ood for thought just fits better on a "F"riday. So as your consolation prize, I want to tell you the story of my near-downing that I mentioned yesterday

You already know that I’m from small-town Utah. We had irrigation ditches there and that’s how nearly everybody watered their farms. My dad took the water turn a couple of nights a week. I don’t know if he requested them in the middle of the night because of his day job as a teacher or if that’s just how it usually worked out, but on his days to take the water he got up in the middle of the night and headed down to the farm. 

Photo Credit
Taking the water meant pulling the dams on two or three ditches and diverting the water to your field. Water turns were not fun! My dad usually came back exhausted, muddy, and ornery. He often complained that this neighbor had taken his turn early or that neighbor had stolen half the water. The irrigation ditches ran all through our little town and then into a collector that ran under the main streets and into a canal by my grandparents’ house. 

About a half a block from my house on the corner was one of the smaller ditches. It was about three feet across and three feet deep. Most of the time it ran less than a foot of water and we loved to roll up our pants and squish through it with our bare feet. There were several culverts that made exciting tunnels full of weeds and spiders. When the water was mostly gone, the heavy Utah clay dried up and cracked. It was one of our favorite adventure spots, but forbidden by my mother. 

Photo credit
 One day when I was about six, my older brothers and I and a family friend named Mike sneaked away from the house and headed over to the ditch. It was running at about half capacity, which was way too deep for us to wade, but was oh so fun to throw sticks and leaves and watch them race. Japan and I sat on the edge of the ditch, dangling our feet in the rushing water. New Zealand and Mike were hanging out on the other side of the culvert, watching our sticks and declaring the winner. 

Now remember, we were in a small town and there was no cement or wood to hold back the mud and the edges were slippery. It just so happens that the farmers had been through a day or two before and burned away all the vegetation so the water would flow faster. As I inched along, encouraging my stick to pull ahead of Japan’s, my feet slipped in the sludge, and into the ditch I tumbled. 

I wasn’t afraid at first. I’d been in the ditch many times, but never with the water flowing so fast. I tried to pull myself up but everything was so slippery and the water forced it’s way up my nose and I couldn’t breathe. I clawed at the edges, desperately trying to find something to hang onto. Somewhere I could hear Japan yelling for help but I couldn’t track his voice. I was no longer sure which way was up. I slipped through the culvert and the water ran even faster. I was cold and muddy and totally out of control. 

Photo credit
 I was terrified! The ditch widened and deepened about 20 feet further down and if I got that far…Suddenly a hand reached through the murky water and grabbed my flailing arm. "I gotcha!" he yelled. Twelve-year-old Mike and 10-year-old New Zealand dragged me through the mud and into the dirt until I was out of harm’s way. I started coughing and bawling while trying to rub the mud from my eyes. Even 8-year-old Japan seemed a little worried and nothing ever got to him. There was no way Mom was going to let us get away with this one…maybe we could tell her we were just trying to help Dad by taking the water turn…

May 25, 2011

Swimmer's fEar

I’ve been suffering from "swimmer’s ear" for the last few weeks. I’m not sure what brought it on since I haven’t been to the pool since before Christmas, but it’s really annoying. Sometimes my ear "whistles" and sometimes it just rings. I remember distinctly the first time I had this ailment. It was not when I was a child on the swim team or the dive team as I got a little older. It wasn’t when I swam across a lake just to impress a guy when I was 15 (I’ll have to tell you that story later). It happened about 5 or 6 years ago.

My co-leader in my Girl Scout troop suggested we try a new pool for our summer swim party. They had some amazing outdoor features including a huge bucket that was big enough to dump water on about 30 people at the same time. Price-wise it was reasonable, so I agreed and we planned a day. The Dog Walker was twelve and he loved being part of a scout troop, boys or girls, so we took him swimming with us.

The pool is currently getting a makeover. They have fun day-by-day shots at this photo blog.
Most of the girls in our troop were older and perfectly capable of taking care of themselves in a swimming situation, so we established a central point with one of our leaders and the rest of us scattered around with the girls. The Dog Walker took off by himself to explore the area. It wasn’t long before he returned. "Mom! They have a high dive!" he yelled a little too loudly. A bunch of people stared at us as he tugged my hand to show me his discovery. My son knew that I had done a lot of swimming as a child, and I always made it a big deal that I wasn’t afraid of the high dive when none of them would venture near it.

Norman Rockwell
At our old pool, several of the older kids had actually committed the ultimate crime by climbing back down the ladder rather than jumping into the deep water. I would show off with a rather clumsy (since I’m old and big now) swan dive, but they thought it was the greatest. The Dog Walker wasn’t afraid of going off the high dive, but he would enjoy it more if he could get me to join him.

As we walked toward the deeper pools, I glanced about, mentally spotting each girl in the troop and making sure they were within sight of another leader or older girl. I guess I could disappear for a few minutes and nobody would notice. The complex was huge with several shallow areas and then a couple of deep pools. I saw the high dives and turned in that direction. I had already agreed that of course I wasn’t scared, and yes, I would take my turn. The Dog Walker pulled at my hand, "Not that way," he said and pointed. My eyes followed his finger. Now I had seen diving platforms before, but only on the Olympics.

I glanced at his face and saw the excitement there. I couldn’t disappoint him. I slowly mounted the stairs. We hiked past the 5-meter platform and made our way to the 7.5-meter (24.5 ft!). There was one even higher (30 feet), but I managed to convince him that we were good. We walked to the edge of the platform. I looked longingly across the pool at what I considered high dives. They looked puny from our birds’ eye view.

**Editor's Note: I decided to review the official heights of Olympic springboards and diving platforms just to give some perspective. The "high dive" is the 3 meter (about 10 ft.) springboard. The Olympic platforms are 5, 7.5 and 10 meters. Mom is standing on a 7.5 meter (24.5 ft.) diving platform. More then twice the height of her normal springboard.

"Come on, Mom!" he encouraged. "Jump!" At least he wasn’t expecting me to dive. The attendant looked at me skeptically, I’m sure he was expecting me to bail. I glanced down at the water. It was SOOO far away! Another look at my son and I knew I wasn’t going to get out of this easily. I said a quick prayer, plugged my nose, and jumped. The free fall was terrifying, but it wasn’t the worst part. I sliced through the water like a knife…a very heavy knife…and plummeted downward.

Actual platform Mom jumped from the red arrow.
The water was 20 feet deep, but I never touched the bottom. If I would have I could have gotten some momentum to push me back to the surface. I have been close to drowning before (again, another story for another time), but this time my lungs were burning and my ear felt like it was going to explode. I finally broke the surface and gulped deep breaths. I shook my head, trying to ease the pain in my ear. I couldn’t let my son know how close to death he had forced me to be. I looked for the platform and waved. He waved back, then turned around and headed down the stairs.

**Editor's Note: Dog Walker claims he eventually did jump off the same platform. I cannot confirm or deny. Although I would guess he stuck with the 5 meter (16 ft.) platform.

May 24, 2011

Birth Story: Dog Walker

It was the spring of 1993. I was pregnant with the Dog Walker and my whole life felt broken. I was miserable on so many levels. I was incredibly sick, but way too stubborn to allow myself to throw up (sorry, I mentioned throw up again!). My insurance had changed and I couldn’t visit my OB/GYN that had delivered my last two babies. So I was stuck going to a different doctor recommended by one of my neighbors. 

On my first visit two things happened that made me really not like him. The first was that he told me if he were not the doctor on call when I went into labor, one of his partners would do the delivery. Great, just what I wanted, some strange man I had never met before assisting me with one of the most important moments of my life! The second thing was in his opinion routine, in my opinion absolutely wrong.  Every woman knows that at the first exam you can just expect a vaginal and with every other doctor I knew, a nurse came in to assist. So I am lying on the table, completely vulnerable with a man I’ve barely known for three minutes and he snaps on the gloves. I offer, "Aren’t you going to have the nurse come in?" He looked surprised, then said, "I can’t afford to pay people to stand around." I must have looked shocked because he then grudgingly said, "…but if it makes you more comfortable…" I nodded my head quickly and he opened the door and called for the nurse. After that, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t trust him. 

 At nearly three months I started bleeding. The doc told me that it was the stress of working full time and having four other kids at home. If I wanted to carry this baby to full term, I needed to cut back. Since I couldn’t give away any of the kids, I approached my boss with my request. For several months I needed to go to part time. This messed up so many things…not just my pay (which we really needed), my 401K, my insurance…you get the idea. But we couldn’t chance losing this little guy because of money. The decreased activity worked and at six months I slowly started working more hours only most of them were from home. 

I loved working from home! As a senior technical writer, almost everything I did was easily done from my computer at home. If I needed to talk with someone I could use the phone or run up to the office. It was so nice to not feel "broken" anymore. I had a friend in my office (still my best girl friend!) who was pregnant with me. I was due a few days before her, but when she delivered her little guy, I was still miserable and huge. My doctor offered to induce, but his free day was November 1, and that was Bossy’s birthday so I declined. The next time he was free was November 4, so we scheduled that day. 

9 lbs 3 oz
We showed up at the hospital at the crack of dawn and they prepped me and we hunkered down to wait. It was slow going for a long time. They kept cranking up the Pitocin and nothing was happening. After many long hours, my little guy finally began descending into the birth canal. The doc showed up and all was ready except that my babe appeared to be stuck. We were already guessing that he was pretty big since we had gone three days past when the doc first suggested we induce. 

When the heart rate started to drop, the doctor reached for the forceps. They looked like two giant serving spoons about the size of a little head. I guess they scared my Dog Walker into crowning because the doctor made some crack about using them to play a tune while banging them together since we didn’t need them anymore. My boy was beautiful, with black hair and huge brown eyes which is a little strange since I have blue and my sweetie has hazel, but Grandpa has brown eyes so we figure they skipped a generation. 

Besides the fact that he was healthy and perfect, my company decided that working at home full time would be fine for me. I only had to go in the office for about an hour a week for a coordinating meeting. And by the time number six came along, my insurance was different again so I could return to my favorite doctor. It’s kind of amazing how life fixes itself and turns out just like it should. 
Clearly getting a lot of work done with Drama Queen and Dog Walker helping.

May 23, 2011

Sock it to me!

My sweetie says we talk altogether too much about disgusting things on this blog, you know…poop, vomit, torn pants, Justin Bieber…So at the risk of offending his delicate constitution, I’ve just gotta tell you about my week! You all remember that on Monday night at FHE Curly threw up over the Justin Bieber movie. That’s not really unusual because he has asthma so when he gets too excited, everything just comes out. 

Scout at Preschool Graduation
On Wednesday, I took Scout to her Preschool Graduation. (She was so cute in her little cap and fancy dress!) They served goodies there and we all ate way too many. The day was progressing totally normal with all the craziness of a typical day at our house. Then while I was loading the dishwasher after dinner, Scout walked right up to me and puked all over my socks, the bottoms of my jeans, and the floor. I helped her undress and sent her to the shower. At that point I still wondered if maybe the goodies and snacks were just not settling well in her little tummy. 
But later that night, after most of the kids were finally snoozing in their beds, Baby Doll started heaving. We spent much of that night cleaning up after her as she struggled to keep anything down. You know how little ones are, she wanted mom/milk to help her feel better, but that really just made her feel worse. Thursday dawned bright and early and I sent the kids to school as usual. I was starting to feel a little queasy myself. It was fathers and sons weekend, so the guys were planning to go camping with a group from our neighborhood on Friday. We also had a Girl Scout sleepover planned, so we needed the house cleaned and the quilt tops made for our service project. It was not a day to sleep in. 

The baby was still sluggish and grumpy, so it was difficult to get things done. Bossy came over to help. Taco is off track so he tagged along. (Big mistake! Huge!) He and Sport hung out after school and played until Bossy picked up and headed home. After dinner, it was almost like a repeat performance…Sport came in the kitchen and puked all over the floor (he missed my socks this time), but he managed to get half of it on the counter and the side of the cupboard. I sent him to the shower and cleaned up the mess. I still had a million things to do to get everything ready, but I crashed around 2:00 a.m and figured it would all work out. 

 About 4:00 a.m., we were sort of sleeping when Sport started yelling for his dad at the top of his lungs. Seems he had thrown up again in his bedroom this time. Most of it made the bowl so the mess was fairly minor but we threw him in the shower again anyway. I rolled over with the baby and went back to sleep. About an hour later, Crafty ran from her room into the bathroom and threw up in the sink. She sat in the shower for almost an hour before I was able to get her to go back to bed. It was time to cancel the Girl Scout sleepover. Bossy called to say that the boys would not be going to fathers and sons. Taco had thrown up several times during the night. Those who were feeling decent headed off to school. 

An hour later I got a text from the Prima Donna that read, "I’m not feeling well…" My advice? "Find a bathroom and hurry!" My sweetie continued with the plans for fathers and sons without the grandsons. By the afternoon, it seemed that everything had finally settled down. We got the guys off for their campout (at the last minute Bossy decided Burrito was well and there was no reason for him to miss) and we hunkered down to tie a couple of quilts for the boys. I got a call from my sweetie. Burrito was puking everywhere. Did I want to come and get him? After settling him down and convincing him that he was a pro at cleaning up after little boys who blow chunks, we watched a movie and finally headed off to bed. 

Sometime during the night Princess ran to the bathroom and in a very graceful manner (because everything she does is graceful), emptied her stomach. The boys rolled in around 1:00 in the afternoon. They were tired and my sweetie was turning green. I sent him off to bed for the rest of the afternoon. I still don’t know how his stomach fared. (I’m afraid to ask…) While unloading the van, the Dog Walker confessed that he threw up on Friday at school, but didn’t want to ruin anybody’s fun so he didn’t tell us. 
Then late last night, while Bossy and I were still working on the last of Sport’s new quilt, Curly woke up and ran to the side of the quilt. It was clear what was happening. I ran one way around and Bossy hurdled herself over the quilt frame (pretty impressive, huh?) and carried him to the kitchen where I held him over the sink for the first couple of heaves. **Editor's Note: I would've stayed to help but I am very much a sympathy puker and the last thing we needed was more throw up.  When I thought he was done, I set him on the floor to strip off his clothes. Then he proceeded to throw up all over my socks…

Sport's new quilt.

May 22, 2011

Guest Blog - The Bees Knees by The King (aka Sweetie)

Sand bees…those stupid sand bees. When I was a kid my family was the proud owner of the biggest sandbox in town. It was way cool, had a big cement pipe (affectionately called the Tunnel) and a couple of dump-trucks worth of sand. So when we built our home, a big sandbox was high on my list of desires. We got it, and thanks to a mistake by a contractor, we ended up with a huge one! Ten dump-trucks full! But with it came sand bees.

Every summer the kids come in crying, "There’s bees in the sand pile!" Over the years I have battled the bees many times. The biggest problem is that I don’t want to turn the sand into a toxic waste dump. Daily raking helps some, but not enough. So when I give up and resort to pesticides, it has to be as little as possible… anyway it all happened because of the bees. The bees had been reported, but I hadn’t jumped into action.

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. I was lounging around the house in some comfortable baggy shorts. Then someone with true power, the queen bee, gave a royal decree that I slay those increasingly annoying bees. Oh and they were in the trampoline again so be sure and spray it too. So after kicking all the kids out of the backyard so I could spray, I started the attack. As I finished the sandbox, the wind started to pick up a bit, but I was determined to finish. When a royal decree has been issued you don’t want to be on the bad side of the queen. So I turned to the tramp… the bees like to crawl into the springs. It would be best to wait for evening, but maybe if I soaked the springs…(kids don’t tend to suck on the springs like they eat sand).

As I bent over to spray the springs, and the spray was mostly coming back in my face, I had a brilliant idea. If I tipped the tramp up on edge, I could spray the springs easily without fumigating myself in the process. While moving around to the far side so I had room for the spray to land on the grass and not in the garden, I almost stepped on some doggy doo-doo. Rats, my son had done a shoddy job of scooping once again…I stepped carefully over the pile. That would have to wait. Back to those stupid bees….

As I lifted the tramp I realized this might not be a one-person job, but maybe if I walked up the side I might get it by myself. As I moved from leg to leg of the tramp, forcing it higher and higher, the whole thing started to twist around with the wind. I stubbornly continued my quest. It was almost there and if I just jumped… I thought I could get it. And then it happened all at once but in that sort of slow motion that happens during car wrecks.

I jumped… I went up, but my baggy shorts and under garments went down! In shock over this turn of events, I lost my hold on the edge of the tramp and when the wind suddenly gusted, the tramp went into free fall. With my bare butt blowing in the wind… the only thing I could do was duck and cover. I tried to tuck under the falling trampoline. I managed to get out of the way of the metal, but the main pad slammed me to the ground…

Oh, safe and sound hidden under the tramp with only a bump on my head! Had anyone seen me? Were the backyard neighbors in their yard? Maybe I would just stay there for a few minutes. Pulling my pants back up, I became aware of a bad smell. Seems that my fall had been cushioned by some nice squishy dog doo-doo…

So you might think the moral of this story is don’t wear baggy shorts. OR don’t try and flip a tramp by yourself… No, the stupidest thing I did all that day was not keep my mouth shut. Once the story was out, it grew to be the family legend. Told to complete strangers just for a laugh, and now by royal decree of the queen bee it’s on the web… So here’s some advice. If you jump and you go up and your pants go down… just fix the problem and move on. Never tell anyone! Oh and the bees were back in a week. I think the spray I was using had been frozen and didn’t seem to work at all…stupid sand bees.

*Editor's Note: Comments were somehow disabled on yesterday's post. We want you to know it was not intentional. In fact, Dad would love some sympathy stories about ripping your pants in public. So please if you had a comment to share feel free to return to the page. We are sorry you caught us with our pants down.

May 21, 2011

The Royal Britches Have Lost Their Stitches...

For those of you unfamiliar with the Utah landscape, the Key Bank tower was one of the tallest office buildings in downtown Salt Lake City. It sat on top of Crossroads Mall although both of them were torn down several years ago. My sweetie used to work for a small engineering firm headquartered in the Key Bank Tower. That was convenient for things like Christmas shopping or grabbing a quick bite to eat in the food court. It was just such an occasion when my sweetie ventured down the elevator.

It was mid December and he was hoping to pick up a few Christmas surprises. After a quick bite to eat, he wandered through several stores looking for just the right gift. He finally scored with a pair of black leather gloves and a beautiful silk scarf. Pleased with his purchases, he hopped back on the elevator and returned to his office. He walked casually down the hall and was stopped halfway to his office by his boss. “Maybe you’d better take off early today,” his boss suggested. Looking a bit stunned, my sweetie responded, “Well, I’ve got a lot of work to do and I already took a long lunch.” His boss chuckled, “Seriously, I think you’d better head home.” Now puzzled, my sweetie offered the inevitable, “Why?” His boss grinned again, “You have an huge rip in the seat of your pants.”

Flash forward about ten years later…my girls had pestered me into joining the Utah League of Writers because they were offering youth membership for practically nothing. It seemed harmless enough and something good for them to add to scholarship applications as they got a little older. The League sponsored a writing contest every year and the girls were excited to enter. They convinced me to put something together too. We were thrilled when we received notice that someone had won a prize and we were all invited to the reception at a downtown hotel.
It was Sunday best, so we put on our fanciest duds and headed out. The hotel was nice but comfortable and the reception was set up in one of the largest conference rooms. We arrived a little early and wandered around. They had a small pond in front with ducks and geese. We watched them out the window for several minutes and then I left the gathering with Bossy to find a restroom. As we were making our way back up the hall, my sweetie was still standing at the window watching the ducks with the Drama Queen. That’s when I noticed the huge rip in the backside of his slacks. I glanced at my watch. It was time to enter the conference room and given the circumstances, I couldn’t see any way to solve this problem.

I whispered to Bossy, “See Dad’s pants?” She snickered under her breath. “We have to walk close behind him at all times so no one can see that rip,” I breathed in her ear. She looked at me incredulously, “You aren’t going to tell him?” I glanced back to where they were standing, totally oblivious to the disaster. “Can we do anything about it?” I asked. She thought for a moment. “No…” she said. “Then what’s the point of getting him all upset about it?” I asked. She shrugged. So between the two of us, we “tailed” him for the rest of the evening. I think we did a pretty good job, at least I didn’t see anyone laughing or pointing. A couple of hours later with prizes in hand, we strolled out of the hotel and headed for our car. My sweetie put his arms around both daughters. “Hey, let’s swing by the grocery store and grab some ice cream!” he suggested. “Ummm…I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said. “Why not?” he asked. He squeezed their shoulders a little, “I’m just so proud of them!” he enthused. It was time to ‘fess up. “Well, you have a little rip in your pants…”

May 20, 2011

Long Live the King

Overheard at my house:
Gym Rat – "Curly! Where are your pants?"
Scout – "He’s the king! He doesn’t have to wear pants!"

If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was familiar with the fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. I try to read all kinds of books to my kids, but honestly, some of those old fairy tales are pretty scary and, contrary to Disney, they don’t all turn out happily in the end. But back to our original discussion…if you are the king, can you really get away without wearing pants?

At my house, my sweetie gets to be the king. I know what you are thinking…what does that mean in today’s advanced society? He can’t really execute anyone (as in the "Off with their heads!" mentality), he can’t even have anyone flogged. And if he tried the stocks, I think DCFS might pay us a royal visit. But he does have certain inalienable rights as the reigning monarch. (Including adding all comments in red by royal decree...)

Copyright Good Housekeeping
He can demand a Diet Cherry Pepsi at any time of the day or night and receive it chilled and in hand within two minutes. He can order toast, cheese, or fruit from his room by simply calling "room service." He has first choice of vehicles after the queen and princesses have chosen their mounts for the day (not that any of them are even remotely the royal coach…hey wait, they might be powered by mice like Cinderella’s…oops, Disney version again). He gets first choice of the movie (as long as it’s pleasing unto at least a majority) we are watching or the radio station we are listening to.

If we are making something chocolate like cake or brownies, he ALWAYS gets the beater and the bowl. He is also allowed to snitch anything (before or after baking) without repercussions. He gets to veto the royal menu
(except in cases of leftover turkey) and/or purchase anything at the grocery store that suits his fancy (but faces a royal tongue-lashing if he doesn’t get the best possible price if shopping alone…). When doling out punishments he can randomly take away cars or cell phones, computer and TV privileges, or he can completely limit the freedom of the perpetrator.

His meals are generally prepared in the royal kitchen and his clothes washed and folded in the royal laundry. As the reigning monarch he gets first choice of his throne (and I mean that on so many levels…) The royal accountant takes care of all of his financial affairs and his private secretary handles all of his calls and personal engagements. He is excused from almost any event he doesn’t want to attend (unless it’s really important - why are ward parties really important?). He is allowed to retire to the royal bedroom at any time. (The need for sleep before arising to slay dragons at dark-thirty is considered a flimsy excuse.)

For all of these privileges and so many more, he is required to turn over all of his personal property, including his inheritance and his substantial income to the royal coffers. He is required to provide an heir (he’s really good at that one!) to fill his royal shoes in the event that he is no longer able to perform his expected duties. And although the question has never come up, I’m pretty sure royal etiquette requires that he wear pants. (But come back tomorrow…I’ve got some great stories about the king’s pants for you!)

Pants are definitely required at Royal Weddings.